Trading in club memberships hit by news of site plan

TRADING in Jurong Country Club (JCC) memberships screeched to a standstill yesterday after the Government announced that the club's plot will be acquired to make way for the high-speed rail terminus.

Golf club membership broker Fion Phua said she received 30 calls from frantic JCC members yesterday afternoon, asking her to sell their memberships. Four members even turned up unannounced at her doorstep.

"There is just no market for it (JCC membership). It cannot be traded any more," she said, adding that the club's 2,700 members have only one option and that is to wait for compensation.

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The 67ha plot will be returned to the Government by November next year, ahead of its 2035 lease expiry date.

The news, said golf club membership brokers, is another blow to a market still reeling from recent government decisions to reacquire land from several other golf clubs.

Last February, it was announced that some land leases would not be renewed beyond their expiration dates and parts of existing golf courses would be earmarked for other uses.

One of Singapore Island Country Club's two courses at its Bukit location will be turned into a public golf course after 2021. By 2030, 200ha will be cut from the current 1,500ha of golf course land, after the leases for Marina Bay Golf Course and Keppel Club and Orchid Country Club end.

Ms Phua, 45, said she started getting calls to sell as early as last week - after it was announced on May 5 that the high-speed rail terminus would be located in Jurong East. Within a week, JCC membership prices dropped from $43,000 to $40,000, she said.

Ms Lee Lee Langdale of another brokership Singolf said: "If there's only one year left (on the membership), who will buy?"

In the short term, brokers expect membership demand for the other golf courses to spike as JCC members look for alternatives - especially that for the nearby Raffles Country Club. But in the longer term, buyers will become more tentative about investing in such memberships, said brokers.

According to data from Tee-Up Marketing Enterprises, a brokerage that sells club memberships, membership prices of the 11 clubs here with transferable memberships fell by as much as 30 per cent year on year in April.

Ms Phua said: "When the Government starts to reacquire land before leases are up, people realise it is risky to invest in such memberships."

limjess@sph.com.sg